Fixing state’s meth problem not easy

The term “home cooking” usually conjures up images of Thanksgiving, family gatherings and Norman Rockwell paintings. To many outstate Minnesotans, the term means broken families, addicted kids and methamphetamines. Politicians have proposed bills to combat the rapidly growing problem of methamphetamine production in Minnesota. Their attempts must be careful to not to worsen the situation.

Unlike marijuana, the case against methamphetamines is clear-cut. They are highly addictive, lead to brain damage and are versatile – they can be anally ingested, smoked, swallowed or injected. Methamphetamine-induced hallucinations have led to several bloody murders of children and numerous acts of unconscionable violence.

Controlling methamphetamine production is troublesome because laboratories can be mobile or easily hidden in one’s own home. Although most methamphetamines are still imported to Minnesota, they pose a problem for rural areas

because their seclusion and access to farm chemicals make them a good location for labs. Often, toxic chemicals from labs are dumped and can seep into ground water. Labs are also prone to explosions.

One bill would make it more difficult to obtain equipment and chemicals necessary for methamphetamine production. Stores would not be able to sell over-the-counter cold tablets containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine to minors, and adults could only purchase two packages – kept behind the counter – at one time.

Making cold medicines harder to buy sounds good, but it is problematic. It hurts innocent parties: kids sent to buy medicine for their sick parent, and rural residents who live far from a store and need to stock up. Second, how effective can the prohibition truly be? People can still buy in other states or on the Internet. Also, it could create another black market – thereby incurring the problems associated with the war on drugs. Politicians must ensure the secondary effects of their proposals will not do just that.